The lovely and hilarious Zen Gray first caught our eye when she was one of Jackie Warner’s Sky Sport trainers on Bravo’s reality TV show Workout. Since then, this half-comedian, half-personal-trainer has dedicated her career to getting people healthier and happier (you can see why we love her with that mission, right?!). In addition to hosting The Skinny on ExerciseTV (hilarity and honesty in its own right!), she does personal and corporate personal training, writes a hilarious and honest blog called Love and Fat about relationships, fitness and her experience planning a wedding and getting a new puppy, and recently completed her first marathon. And best of all, she loves herself! Hence her inclusion in Love Yo’Self Week!
An Interview with Trainer Zen Gray
- FBG: You are both a comedian and a trainer. When it comes to doing what you love, which has the slight edge?
- ZG: Fitness is definitely my favorite thing, but I love to make people laugh, too. I like to help people lighten up. (Bah-doom BAH!)
- FBG: How does humor help with workouts and staying fit/losing weight?
- ZG: Well, let me ask you: Does time go faster at the DMV or when you’re watching South Park? Most people scream, “I have to go on a DIET!” or “OMG… I have to get to the GYM!!!” I just want to help people change their associations with the whole DIET AND WORKOUT thing. It doesn’t have to be so huge. I’d rather just take a relaxed approach like, “Hey, let’s just drink some more water this week, add some veggies and make it a goal to GET to the gym. Once you’re there, if you just want to take a nap then do it. But chances are you’ll feel like jumping up on a machine or joining a class.” It’s far less intimidating that way and less stressful, so I think people would more likely make it an ENJOYABLE part of their life (and be more likely to do it) if they took that approach. We’ve got enough stress, don’t we?
- FBG: You recently started a new blog that looks at relationships and health and fitness. Why did you decide to start this blog?
- ZG: I started my blog because I feel so strongly that your body is a reflection upon how you deal with (or don’t deal with) important issues in your life—like relationships.
- FBG: Are you dating? Does this come from personal experience?
- ZG: I just got engaged. (YAY!!! WOO HOOO!) And even though I’ve been asked several times before (by other men, not my fiance) this is the first time I’ve said, “Yes!” And it’s not because I haven’t dated wonderful people before (okay, some weren’t so fabulous…but I digress), but I definitely had issues with what I THOUGHT marriage was about. I realized that part of me believed that I couldn’t live a healthy lifestyle and be married (totally NOT true, by the way) because I saw so many women gain weight after they moved in (married or not) with a man. And perhaps my experience in relationships is not everyone’s, but I believe that many women can identify with my struggles, and I want to share some of my successful strategies I’ve developed for keeping the LOVE—but losing the love handles.
- FBG: In general, how can someone’s partner affect someone’s healthy lifestyle?
- ZG: First of all, I always believe that YOU have the power to live your life. We choose to give up our morning workout to cuddle in bed with our honey, or drink wine together, or indulge in dessert because we’re celebrating. I’ve also taken full responsibility for those times when I was sad and comforting myself with food because I was in a bad relationship. I was avoiding an uncomfortable conversation or the fear of being alone instead of being with the wrong person. Emotional eating happens to most people, I think.
- FBG: If you’re in a relationship with someone who has unhealthy behaviors, how do you deal? And is it worth trying to get them to change?
- ZG: I think the first step is always awareness for yourself. Trying to change someone else is like trying to elude the Borg. “Resistance is futile.” (Ok, sorry…that’s my Trekkie side coming out.) I like to tell people to try to adopt healthier habits for themselves and INSPIRE change in others. You know you can’t make anyone change. But being a glowing picture of health with a smile on your face makes a pretty convincing argument—without ever having to say a word.
- FBG: You recently completed a marathon. Congrats! Why did you want to run one?
- ZG: Thank you! I ran a marathon because I always thought I couldn’t. My goal was to bust through a self-imposed limitation to show myself that I can do anything. Would I do another one, though? Nope.
- FBG: What was training like and how was the actual marathon itself? Did you reach your goals?
- ZG: I started training six months out with AIDS Project Los Angeles. Our coaches were great and gave us lots of running/walking tips and constant support. There were different groups with different training speeds, and it was all good no matter how fast or slow you were. As a group we raised more than $600,000 for AIDS research. Just amazing! I’d like to take another moment here to thank my supporters! I couldn’t have done it without them. Seriously. I kept thinking, “Oh man, after donating that big chunk of dough, they will kick my ass if I don’t cross that finish line!” And let me ask you this, have you ever wanted to challenge yourself physically and take a trip to Honolulu in December but don’t have the money? If your answer is yes, then check out their website. Yes, I reached my fundraising goal and my personal goal of crossing the finish line! I’ve got the T-shirt and keychain to prove it, too. I’d love for people to check out my blog for more details (and video!) about the marathon.
- FBG: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
- ZG: It’s hard to say, but I love this quote: “Finishing a marathon is a lot less important than starting one.”
- FBG: What are you working on now? Anything new?
- ZG: I have three big goals this year. 1. To have a fun, happy wedding. 2. To publish my book, “Love Makes You Fat: How To Keep The Love… But Lose The Love Handles.” 3. To compete in my first figure competition. (Omg… omg… omg. This scares the sh*t outta me, and I’m trying to embrace it.)
- FBG: Any tips or advice for our Fit Bottomed Girls’ readers or anything else you’d like to add?
- ZG: I love Fit Bottomed Girls!!! I think women should really embrace their fitness friends. Studies show that having a workout buddy makes you more likely to lose weight. So, have fun and introduce yourself to other women who want to live fit lives, too. And lastly, don’t worry about being perfect. Just forgive yourself and love yourself and create an exciting future for yourself!
Don’t you just love her? A big thanks to Zen for talking to us, and be sure to check out her blog Love and Fat! —Jenn